When it comes to information, I'm an eclectic reader and viewer, and I especially love documentaries on all kinds of weird subjects.
I pick up odd bites of information that may pop up in a story one day, in some form or another, usually completely unrecognizable from the original source.
Here are a few knobbly tidbits that have stuck in my brain recently:
Birds that call first in the morning are doing it for a few different reasons: to be the first to attract the attention of a mate, to be the first to call dibs on territory, and because the earlier it is, the quieter it is, so their sound travels farther with less noise competition.
Ravens have more than 30 different kinds of calls.
Birds have a high-pitched alarm call (sometimes barely within humans ability to hear) that serves three purposes: scare away other birds/creatures that are too close, to warn other birds there's danger in the area, and to warn the mate/chicks to stay quite so they won't give away the location of the nest.
Some male birds grow seasonally feathers, headdresses, ruffs, etc in the spring to court females. Some have wattles (the red dangly bits that chickens, black grouse, etc have on their heads) which they can engorge with blood up 4X the size. Some repeatedly fly high, and plummet/drop down like a parachute. Some offer nesting material, some share food. Some male birds toss food in flight (food pass) and the females flip upside-down in the air and catch it.
Stravaging. Isn't that a fabulous word? I really want to use it...
And homeric. I want to use that word too, except for some reason, I can only think of using it in a sarcastic way (must be my sense of humour).
A certain parasite lives the first and last parts of its life cycle inside cats. The mid-cycle portion of their life is when it is released from the cats' body onto grass, which is then eaten by a mouse or rat. The parasite then actually changes the hosts' behaviour to make it more likely to get eaten by another cat -> rats/mice are instinctively terrified/avoid cat-smells, but in researching infected rodents, they were found to be super attracted to cat-urine, also they took an abnormal amount of risks (not hiding, but wandering around in the open/sunlight), and had slower reflexes. Since people can also be infected by this parasite through improperly handled cat-litter, researchers also discovered that people in traffic accidents are twice as likely to be infected... so, given that it's more likely you will get in an accident if you take more risks and have slower reflexes, would infected people also be strangely attracted to cat-urine?
The island of Socotra, mostly 'cause I like Sanskrit related stuff (especially the goddess Vac), and Mesa Verde (no Sanskrit there... yet...)
Parents in Tibet pay smugglers to take their children (as young as 4-5) across the Himalayan mountains (many die or lose fingers/toes/etc to the cold) to Tibetan schools in India -> the only safe place they can learn about their heritage, their religion, their history.
...The Wild Hunt... oh yeah, it's gonna happen some day...
Ogmios, or one of his other cultural variations, most likely the Irish one, 'cause, in addition to the very interesting cultural significance of dowries (for a comical rendition, see 'The Quiet Man'), I'm also interested in Eriu, Deirdre and The Morrigan.
...which brings me to psychopomps...
My love for these was started by the web comic Gunnerkrigg Court.
How about you? Do you gather strange facts/oddities, then warp & weave them into something different? What kind of things inspire ideas for you?